The Dare to be Digital 2015 team talks about working on their entry title SnowDown

Dare Blogs: Prullaria’s competitive snowball fighting game

What’s your game?
SnowDown can best be described as a twoplayer competitive snowball fight. It has an arcade quality to it, and it’s driven entirely by various features found on modern smartphones: orientation, gesture, and touches. I know that sounds odd, but it really is all about connecting with another friend and pelting them into icy submission.

Players use their phones as a window into the world, and can move the game camera by tilting and turning their device. At their feet they can gesture to roll snowballs which get added into an inventory (rolling duration influences ball size). Once they want to throw, they can retrieve a ball from their inventory and throw it in several key directions.

Additionally, spin can be added to the ball before releasing the throw, dramatically affecting the flight arc. Due to limitations in sensors, players can’t move in the space; instead they block incoming snowballs by tapping on them in flight. It’s worth noting that the game is played while physically standing across from your opponent, which means that you can spy on them in the physical world as well as the digital world to help predict and react to their actions.

What has the Dare experience been like?
If I had one really positive takeaway from Dare, it’s been the industry mentors and the fact that there are really great people on that roster. It’s certainly helped us a lot to get their perspective on where to look developing forward. As for the actual process in making the game, it’s been very similar to other game projects my team has done in the past.

The exception is that this is something we hope to showcase en masse – the final weeks have certainly been a pressure cooker for the team. In the end, you just apply the lessons learned moving forward, and try to stay realistic with regards to work volume, and have faith in individual team members to deliver good work and make their own choices.

All in all, it’s been really exciting to work towards something we feel has value, and we are grateful to Dare for challenging us, and giving us an opportunity to grow.

What have you learned from Dare?
It is always surprising what a new project can teach you. In this case, we learned to take into account non-obvious development tasks like review builds and marketing materials. It’s easy to become so focused on your project, given the relatively short timeframe, that you forget that someone needs to allocate time and energy to make sure that the right materials end up with the right people in the right order.

A big test of a team’s flexibility as developers is rolling with these kind of punches. Sometimes that means overtime, but hopefully the project is scalable enough to allow for some give in either direction.

Another key lesson I would say is learning to grow and change as you learn more about the hardware you’re working with. It’s been a challenge to find the best way to make our game run seeing the inconsistent results that come from the various Android sensors. This also means we had to re-think or throw out mechanics – the game in its current state is mechanically very different in certain places compared to the initial pitch.

Are you looking forward to ProtoPlay?
Yes, most certainly! For most of us, it is the equivalent of a holiday and business trip combined. In any case the opportunity to interact with the Dundee audience and showcase our blood, sweat and tears is worth all the effort.

Meeting other game developers for friendly competition is always an experience we relish, and we hope to learn lots from all the impressions and feedback. There’s a great sense of culmination as we work towards it all. Of course we hope that we succeed, but the event itself is worth it.

What are your ambitions after Dare?
All of the Prullaria team is either heading into graduation or internship phases of their course curriculum. There is a good split of more independently and triple-A-focused people working on SnowDown – so it will be interesting to see where everyone ends up. It’s safe to say that the coming year will be a formative one for all of us. One thing stands pretty concrete though, we will all be making games in some form.

Personally, I come from an indie background, and I noticed that even though I’ve had a very positive internship experience in the previous year, I’m really more interested in smaller, more personal work. I just thoroughly enjoy working in small teams and trying to push the medium forwards. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are teams for the future that will come out of Dare; in fact I hope so. It’s immensely valuable to have a core group that you can rely on and persevere with.

Follow Prullaria on Twitter @snowdowngame to learn more about their game.

Dare ProtoPlay and Indie Fest is on 13th-16th August in Dundee’s Caird Hall and City Square, with all 16 Dare student games on show, indie games, talks, workshops and more.

Team members:

Alex Wiliams – Team Lead, Additional Art and Design – NHTV, Netherlands
Brenden Gibbons – Design Lead – NHTV, Netherlands
Yan Knoop – Programmer – NHTV, Netherlands
Apostol Dadachev – Programmer – NHTV, Netherlands
Rik Van Peer – Environment Artist – NHTV, Netherlands
Corne Willemsen – Environment Artist – NHTV, Netherlands
Dave Reuling – Character Artist, Animations – NHTV, Netherlands
Leonhard Van Voorst – Composer – ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, Netherlands

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